May 11th, 2012
09:52 AM GMT
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(CNN) – Dust off your old comic books: a collector has sold a near-mint copy of the first issue of the Batman comic book for a whopping $850,000.

The seller reaped a stunning return on investment, after paying $315,000 for the No. 1 issue two years ago, according to the auctioneer.  The comic book was priced a mere 10 cents when it was published in 1940.

The sale to an investor partnership was arranged privately by Dallas-based collectibles auction house, Heritage Auctions.  The identities of the buyer and sellers have not been revealed.

Playing on nostalgia, vintage comic book sales have been on the rise in recent years.  A rare comic book collection reaped Heritage Auctions over $8.9 million in February, breaking the company’s own world record of $6.03 million from May 2011.  According to Heritage, comic auctions grossed no more than $2.2 million when the company began auctioning comics over a decade ago.

During the February auction, a copy of the Batman No. 1 issue was sold for $274,850 and a copy of Detective Comics No. 27, in which the Batman character debuted, sold for $522,813.

Popular comic book characters have also made big cash on the silver screen.  The last decade has seen a slew of comic-based blockbusters, including Batman, Spiderman, X-men, Hellboy, and The Fantastic Four.  The Avengers, which made their comic book debut in 1963, grossed $207.40 million last weekend when it opened, breaking the all-time weekend record set by Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallow Part II.

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soundoff (25 Responses)
  1. Jeff

    My own favorite collection run is Giant Size X-Men #1 & #94-137.

    May 11, 2012 at 12:37 pm |
  2. Joe from CT, not Lieberman

    For historical perspective, the above illustration comes from an advertisement/PSA during WW2 encouraging kids to buy War Stamps and War Bonds. Robin is holding a sheet of war stamps, and Bat-Man a war bond.

    May 11, 2012 at 1:10 pm |
  3. T

    Ah, I wish I had a few copies of those rare comics from the '40s, I could retire right now. (sigh)

    May 11, 2012 at 1:18 pm |
  4. ElectricLion

    Don't be fooled by articles like this. It's mostly just the very old comics that are worth anything. I collected comics from 1983 to 1995. I have the Batman issue in which the Joker kills Robin, the LSH issue in which Superboy dies, the Superman issue in which Doomsday and Superman kill each other, and a first edition of The Killing Joke. Other than those few issues, my entire collection is worth less than its collective cover price.

    May 11, 2012 at 1:32 pm |
  5. Garry1952

    One also has to remember that Heritage is the "rich guy's" auction house. An item that might be in other national auction houses could carry a $100 opening bid while over at Heritage it would start at a $1,000. Plus collectible prices have been massaged in the last decade or so to reap the buyer the potential for even greater profit in a few years – rather than over decades.
    It doesn't say, but, this comic will, if not already, be graded (like the coin grading fiasco) and if a 10 on a 10 point scale would add to its perceived value.
    Bottom line on any collectible it is only worth what someone is willing to pay for it.

    May 11, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
  6. Hugh Jass

    Once I was a millionaire. Then my mom threw away my comics while I was at college. I had the first Spiderman, first Hulk, all the Marvel first. I hope someone picked them out of the garbage . . .

    May 11, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
  7. angryoldguy

    Read them for the enjoyment! A Comic Book shop is not a brokerage. I managed a Shop in the '80's when so many were "investing" in comics. Just enjoy them as a hobby. Who knows, maybe someday something you purchased will have value but for now the value should be in your own enjoyment of the story, artwork and format. "Nuff Said"!

    May 11, 2012 at 2:22 pm |
  8. Uncle Spooge

    I hate stories like this because it makes people think comics are like the stock market. The speculator era of the 90s just about killed the comic industry. There is always some jerk that points to one comic of a million and says look it does go up but would you invest in something with such a lower chance of any return.

    May 11, 2012 at 3:08 pm |
  9. HamsterDancer

    I collected comics most of my life but don't anymore. During the big 90's collection craze I got caught up in the buying of every special edition and sealing them in plastic and filed neatly away. But that took all the fun out of it. I realized I was a comic book reader, not a collector. I enjoyed them just for the fun of the stories and art.
    Still, I know I've potentially got a few valuable ones tucked away in a box somewhere, like the1st issue of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. But nothing in the range of what's in the article.

    May 11, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
  10. Barnabas Collins

    This kind of story makes me think of one thing: There are so many people out there with more dollars than sense that will spend that much money on something like this, but refuse to give to help others and then complain about sharing their fair share of taxes. The high end comic book market is a very small number of extremely wealthy people who think they don't have anything better to do with their money. I hope the market crashes and they lose their @$$

    May 11, 2012 at 3:40 pm |
  11. Cherries

    "BLAM!!" "POW!!" "SOCK!!" I love those old batman comics!

    May 11, 2012 at 3:42 pm |
  12. Hood1707

    Remeber folks, they are talking about the old rare comics. That crapping copy of "Spawn" you bought back in the 1990s is worth next to nothing. Got all the different covers of an issue. Landfill! You need to find the stuff that is pre-1980! and it had better be in good condition too.

    May 11, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
  13. shyster

    so i have mint copies of DARK PHOENIX, where she dies and resurrects, #1 ROM, SHE-HULK, MICRONAUTS, etc.

    any takers here?

    May 11, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
  14. docame

    What about Star Trek going back to the early '60s? I have this collection my sis gave me back when own ed a comic book store during that '90s craze. I don't really care about it. I just can't bring myself to throw them out.

    May 11, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
  15. Rebd

    If you love Batman and other comic book characters, I highly recommend u look on Youtube and search "Holy Musical B@man". It is a musical parody of Batman and other characters and it is hysterical. Check it out!

    May 11, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
  16. Thanos

    The only truly valuable ones are from before 1970. Most comics after 1980 had runs of hundreds of thousands if not millions of issues.
    Don't invest in current comics for future returns. If you want to use comics as an investment go after issues that have rumors of being future movies (like Flash #1). Or get together with a bunch of investors and purchase these high dollar ones. One more thing, if you are in it for the money, sell them when you can make a profit.

    May 11, 2012 at 4:34 pm |
  17. docame

    What about Star Trek going back to the early '60s? I have this collection my sis gave me back when own ed a comic book store during that '90s craze. I don't really care about it. I just can't bring myself to throw them out. Anyone know any serious answers such as where I can sell them please let me know.

    May 11, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
  18. nelson

    Fools and their toys, what a bunch of jerks! LOL

    May 11, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
  19. Thanos

    If you want to know the real value of comics check out commicconnect.com or EBay and look at what people are actually spending on them.

    May 11, 2012 at 4:47 pm |
  20. rexedie

    Just another example of how money creates delusional thinking,and action. its a narcotic that needs to be controlled...and the people abusing it need to be regulated. i know... its their money they can do what they want with it. like maybe by themselves a soul or personal integrity.... im referring more to those financial types who have bankrupted amerika...

    May 11, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
  21. happy

    THE MIDDLE EAST UPRISING HAHAHHA THE WAR WILL BE THEIR DOWNFALLING

    May 12, 2012 at 9:37 am |
  22. Direct Tax Relief

    I love Robin and Batman.. But how about star trek?
    please visit us at this website http://www.directtaxrelief.com

    May 14, 2012 at 10:49 pm |
  23. Define999

    Yes.... you must have a collection with comics pre-1975 for them to really be worth much. And for real value a majority of your books should be pre-1965. My collection isnt to bad.... check it out here!
    http://comicbookcollection.webs.com/

    May 17, 2012 at 3:28 pm |
  24. ecological investments

    WOW !! What a enormous talked about Business, Cheers author for your nice site.
    ecological investments

    September 12, 2012 at 5:53 am |
  25. Kathy K

    Hi. I have first issue BATMAN in pretty good condition. Cover is attached. Pages are yellowed. Can anyone help me to find out how much it is worth? I am not sure where to begin....

    Thanks

    June 17, 2013 at 11:47 pm |

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